Characters: Tosh, Jack
Word count: 850
Rating: PG-13 for references to torture and one swearword
Spoilers: Torchwood 2x12, "Fragments"
Summary: Jack's persuasive talents sometimes need a little help.
Toshiko has lost all sense of time.
She cannot rely on counting sunrises and sunsets, for she has no way to know how long she has slept. When she finally manages to fall asleep on the cold, rough floor, that is, and always assuming her captors don't start playing loud white noise to force her to stay awake.
She has tried marking the walls of her cell, scratching at the walls until her fingernails are worn down to nothing. She used to laugh when she saw this in films, but it does not seem funny now. It seems it does not qualify as disobedience -- at least, she has never been told that it's the reason for one of the beatings -- but every time she returns from "exercise" the marks are gone.
She cannot even rely on the beatings, purposely irregular to keep her off-balance, purposely initiated at random, not in response to anything she does or doesn't do, whatever the voice from the box on the wall says.
Her only link to the outside world is the constant worry, and the guilt she feels that she is somehow responsible for her mother's fate -- if only she hadn't been seduced by the twin possibilities of learning secrets and really getting to stretch her skills, she would never have been in a position for anyone to want to blackmail her.
And those feelings cannot mark time for her either -- they never go away, only cycle round in a spiral of despair.
Toshiko knows more than enough physics to know that space and time are but two sides of the same coin, but only now can she experience it. Her space has narrowed to the tiny confines of this unfurnished cell, but in exchange her time now stretches infinitely about her, every moment indistinguishable from the ones coming before and after.
So she is amazed when something new finally happens, for the first time in forever. After she grudgingly stands for "inspection", the door opens and in the bright light stands a man she has never seen before.
He takes her to a large empty room, sits her at a table with a disgusting drink. And he talks.
He talks for what feels like forever, to her, at her. He answers the few questions she asks -- the only important questions -- and he continues to talk. Tell her what he knows about her, tell her what he wants her to know about himself and what he does.
He's another one trying to seduce her, she realises. He wants her to swap this reality for one much like the one she left, the one that landed her in this trouble in the first place.
So she knows what her response must be.
When he's finally finished, she looks him directly in the eye and says "Fuck you".
* * *
Jack looks across the table. He can see it all in her eyes: the incomprehension, the disorientation, but still that wonderful defiance.
He needs that strength of character as much as he needs her amazing technical abilities. But nothing works. Nothing has worked for months now.
"It was the money, wasn't it? I shouldn't have mentioned the money." She looks blankly back at him. "I could see it, that's when you switched off. It's never been about the money for you."
She doesn't even ask what he's talking about. She has, in the past, and he's been completely open. He can afford to be, when he knows that the guards will be slipping yet another retcon into her next meal. He's told her that this isn't the first time they've met, that he's tried to persuade her to join him many times before, but each time he's failed and wiped her memory, ready to try again. That the first few times, he simply asked her in various different ways, but she was too loyal to Lodmoor, threatened to report him to the sort of people who could make trouble even for Torchwood. That was when he knew he would have to break her ties to the life she had before.
Sometimes her response to this information has simply been to stare at him with absolutely no expression on her face. Other times she's screamed and sworn at him. He's not sure which reaction is worse.
He isn't proud. Isn't proud of setting up the whole sonic modulator situation in the first place, of hiring people to be the "UNIT" guards and the other prisoners. He isn't proud that he knows where to hire people who'll torture to order. And he isn't proud of wiping her memory, over and over again.
But Torchwood needs this woman. Jack needs her, if he's to make Torchwood what it could and should be, make it something worthy of the Doctor.
And he's close now, he can sense it. Next time, or maybe the time after that, he'll get it right.
Right now, though, Toshiko's about to lose another chunk of time.